NABARANGPUR:Celebration of Dussera has its uniqueness in the tribal-dominated Nabarangpur district. The Durga puja at Maa Bhandaragharani temple holds centre stage during the five-day festivity.
Though there are several puja pandals where Goddess Durga is worshiped for five days beginning from Shasthi, thousands of devotees throng ‘Maa Bhandaragharani’ temple where ‘Sharadiya Durga Puja’ is celebrated for nine days with fervour and solemnity.
On Vijaya Dashami, the deities from various areas are symbolically brought to the temple in a colourful procession amid beating of drums and traditional music. On the day, special offerings including the age-old practice of animal sacrifice are made to the deity. Later, the Dussera carnival starts from the temple to ‘Dusserapada’, a ground situated on the outskirts of the town. Thousands of people participate in the carnival.
At the ground, a long bamboo is installed with a brinjal on its top for a shooting competition in which a number of tribal shooters with their bows and arrows participate. The tribal who hits the target is rewarded.
Similarly, the temple situated in front of the Old Palace of the town attracts people across the State. Maa Bhandaragharani, the presiding deity of the district, considered as the protector and harbinger of prosperity.
The ‘Ghata Yatra’, one of main festivals, is organised every year in April with great enthusiasm among people of the district. As per the legend, Maa Bhandaragharani was the ‘Ishtadevi’ (presiding deity) of King of Nabarangpur. Earlier, the Goddess was worshipped at Raj Jagannathpur, the capital of the King. The original ‘Shakti Peetha’ was situated at Raj Jagannathpur, located 30 kms from the district headquarters town. This apart, there is a small water tank known as ‘Rani Bandh’. Legend says the Queen after taking her bath in the pond used to visit the temple.
The old temple situated on a hill slope at Raj Jagannathpur has been damaged for a quite long time. Though it was renovated three years back, it failed to save the temple from degradation.
However, after shifting of the capital to Nabarangpur, ‘Maa Bhandaragharani’ is being worshipped in the town as per non-Vedic rituals. Family members of ‘Keuto’ caste have been performing the rituals as priests since long.
During the rule of Vikram Dev-IV, ‘anna bhoga’ was introduced in the temple and it is being performed by Bramhin people.
The construction of new temple of ‘Maa Bhandaragharani’ was started in 2005 with an estimated cost of `50 lakh and completed in 2007. In January, 2008, the temple was inaugurated amid spiritual fervour.